Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has filed a bill endorsing the entry of Angelo Kouame to Gilas Pilipinas and also sought to grant him Philippine citizenship.
Angara, who filed Senate Bill No. 1892, said the move is part of the country’s ongoing efforts to build up the Philippine men’s basketball team in time for the World Cup in 2023.
“We have seen what Kouame has accomplished as a member of the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the past three years and his game continues to develop,” said Angara, who chairs the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
“We have not seen the full potential of Kouame yet and his desire to continue developing his game here in the Philippines is something that is worth supporting,” he further said.
He also said Kouame has shown a strong desire to continue living in the Philippines, which has been his home since 2016.
“I have no doubt he will provide an invaluable contribution to Philippine hoops for many years to come,” he stressed.
He said this is not the first time that the Philippines has sought for the naturalization of athletes to help boost the Philippine’s men’s national team’s lineup.
At age 20, the senator said Kouame is expected to be part of the pool of naturalized players of Gilas Pilipinas and should be available to play for the national squad until he turns pro.
Previously, Congress granted Philippine citizenship to Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche, who both contributed to the development of the national team. Other countries have also been doing the same process as a way to improve their teams’ global rankings.
“During this time when almost all Filipinos are going through some of the toughest times in their lives, sports, particularly basketball, provides a welcome respite from all the challenges,” he said.
“The NBA just finished its season and now the PBA is back. I am excited to see our Gilas Pilipinas back in action too and with the likes of Kouame on their way to being part of the squad, the future is looking bright for Philippine hoops,” Angara said.
A counterpart measure has been filed at the House of Representatives as House Bill No. 5951 by SBP vice chairman, Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno.